Hey! Look! More Snow!

Hey! Look! More Snow!

I’ve been back at work for a while, but have been too exhausted from my vacation to write about everything. Here’s a little recap. But first, this:

Cell phone use was apparently a problem at some point here in the library. I can’t imagine why, since the giant slabs of asbestos prevent anything resembling decent reception. Anyway, the main stairway has been designated a “Cell Phone Zone” where, supposedly, students and staff are to stand enjoying echo-y conversations amplified and overheard by six floors of potential eavesdroppers. Today on the way upstairs I noticed a bit of graffiti above the cell phone zone sign. In grand geeky college tradition, someone has designated the stairway the “Self-Hone Zone.”

Which would be great, of course. There should be more of this. The library could establish a whole suite of self-improvement locations. Meditation rooms built off of the lunchroom, consciousness-raising areas outside of circulation, friendly councilors scattered throughout the stacks. The self-hone zone is only a beginning.

Right. Anyway. So over the break, I drove the eight hours to Flint, spent a restless night in my drafty old high school bedroom surrounded by the ham radio equipment and computer magazines that have taken my place, then flew down to Austin, TX for xmas with my boyfriend’s parents, who are majorly sweet. I met him on his layover in the Detroit airport and we flew down together. Apparently the flu had struck him in the airport shuttle, and by the time we met up, he was a tired, feverish pile of carry-on bags. Christmas was spent in the Austin Emergency clinic, waiting for an antibiotic prescription.

I was felled a few hours later, and most of my stay in lovely lovely warm not-snowy-at-all-Austin was spent in a darkened room drinking tea and comparing thermometer readings. We did make it to San Antonio on our last day, and ate at a famous Mexican restaurant where the entrees consisted almost entirely of lard. At the San Antonio zoo, I met the Giant Anteater and spent almost an hour hanging around outside his habitat, which was probably the most ant-free spot in Texas, watching him sniff around with his giant ant-sniffing nose. He came up and sniffed me a couple of times, which pretty much made my week.

After Austin, I flew back to Michigan and hung out with my parents for a while. My friend Erin was in town from San Francisco, and not wanting to get hit in the crossfire of a Flinttown New Years Eve, we hopped in my car and drove to downtown Chicago, where we were much safer. I spent two solid days at the Lincoln Park Zoo, which you may think is a bit excessive, but I do not. On both days, I was pecked by an ostrich. Or rather, the glass that I was standing in front of was pecked by an ostrich. The ostrich would walk by, see us standing there watching him, come over and peck the glass in an irritated way, then walk off. This happened several times. After awhile I realized that the ostrich, having a rather short bird-memory, probably thought that each time it pecked at us was the first. He was trapped in an endless loop of “La de da, here I am, walking, HEY! Get out of here! HA! Take That! La de da…”

Hey, for any of you designers out there, the American Ostrich Association (AOA) really needs a new website.

Anyway, after Chicago, Erin and I drove back to the Crater that is Flint, spent some more family time, and I drove home.

New Year’s resolutions include:

Getting to work earlier. Which, of course, means leaving work earlier. It was getting pretty depressing leaving at six and six thirty. I’ve started coming in at 7:30 with the secretaries, and I think I’m getting more work done in the quiet.

Gym getting-to. This too has been quite successful. My friend Kim and I have a pact. We go every day at lunch rain or shine. We’ve had to miss two days due to dangerously cold windchill (-25F! Come to Ithaca!), but other than that we’ve been faithful. I’ve felt really great doing this. It’s like having recess in the middle of the day. And it is much more memorable than curling up with a book in the lunchroom.

More cooking, less of the conveniently located Indian restaurant. Say no more. Mmm, saag paneer…

Some library stories

We were walking around on our lunch break yesterday and found a really big feather. Next to the feather was a squirrel. By using Occam’s Razor, we determined that we had found a squirrel feather, and spent the rest of lunch trying to convince the reference department.

I got an email yesterday from a nice person who was curious about what exactly “library research” involves. Well, you know that little webcam on top of your computer? It only LOOKS like it’s turned off. Mwah-ha-ha-ha! Ha! Heh! Heh. ahem.

Library Tourism, Ithaca

The weekend was so good that it took me until Tuesday to write about it. With a full serving of book-shopping, horse-petting and firework-ogling,  I luxuriated my way around Ithaca, reveling in the not-work.

I discovered that libraries can be found in the most surprising places. The bird sanctuary where the beavers live also houses a new audio and video library, complete with some very hip compact shelving and an enormous AV-lab. I saw a huge turtle from the window outside their reading room, so I am now a big fan.

Chess with the President, Bake Sales

We were playing chess at the co-op picnic this weekend, when I got the chance to do a nice rant to locally-famous Green party presidential candidate Paul Glover on the subject of librarianship, digital preservation, and last-ditch measures for funding our local library.

Millages seem to be kind of a Michigan thing. Perhaps a bake sale is in order?

Brownies, only $500 each! Anybody up for mom’s million-dollar cheesecake? Only a million dollars!

Hooray Hooray the ALA

Oh that wacky American Library Association convention. Imagine, if you will, 50 billion librarians wandering around downtown Toronto. Yes, it looked like that.

I did a bit of shopping on Sunday afternoon, and had the honor of being informed by a salesgirl that a librarian had appeared on TLC’s A Makeover Story and had been brought to that very store. “See” she implied, “it’s not too late for you!”

On a similar “weird public image of librarianship” line, I had more trouble with the ALA vendors than usual. Since I’m no longer a student, I had to contend with eager sales representatives trying to sell me their wares. I found myself regularly explaining that SOME librarians don’t actually work with books, deal with the public, or care much about the latest installment in the Harry Potter series. Once I made the mistake of mentioning the words “digital preservation research” and was treated to a sales pitch for a music journal.

I did get a chance to see a copy of Revolting Librarians Redux this weekend, and I would like to encourage everyone to buy the heck out of it. Among other things, the book contains a poem that I hadn’t read since I submitted it. I was pleased to see that it didn’t suck quite as badly as I had feared.

News Flash: A woman just walked by my library office window practicing sign language to herself. People often walk by my office and don’t realize they are being observed. Unfortunately, this works both ways, and I’ve often been caught chewing my fingernails by a casual passerby.

Spring! Drunken Students!

Flowers and Fishnets my dearies, spring has come to my Eastern College Town, and the windows of the library have been covered with plywood to protect them from the ravages of Drunken Students! Having done my undergraduate degree in a school where Drunken Students have the regular habit of burning police cars and smashing shop windows, I’m not entirely surprised.

Here at Cornell, there is some annual “let’s all get schnokered and come throw up on the reference desk” type event coming up here on Friday. I’ll be your entrenched reporter, with my ringside office window.

Revolting Librarians Redux

The section of the library dedicated to books on librarianship is located outside my office door. I thumbed through a few of them this morning. I was curious what a book on librarianship looked like, since I never really saw that many at “library school”.

Most were from the 70s and 80s, and were dedicated to some pretty abstract stuff, but nestled among the monographs on school librarianship, I found the 1972 classic Revolting Librarians. I’m amazed by the number of librarians and libraryworkers who aren’t familiar with what is the most radical, most groundbreaking, and most hilarious book ever written on the subject of librarianship. Fortunately, it’s in the public domain (because librarians rule), and also fortunately, there’s a sequel due out this fall, edited by the indelible Katia Roberto and Jessamyn West.

I contributed a piece of doggerel whose rhyme scheme should make English majors wince worldwide. Hopefully my library will buy the thing so I can walk by it in the stacks every day and feel all smug.

Holi and Hanging Chads

I am covered from fur to fingernails in colored dye-powder because it is the Hindu festival of Holi. My friend Clay & I partook of the cultural wackiness this afternoon on the Ivy League University (TM) campus. Colored dye-powder, I have discovered, does wonders for fine, bodiless hair. I looked rather styled-up by the time we were all done tossing the stuff at each other. Must remember this for my next formal occasion. Girls! Got limp lifeless hair? Get a nice South Asian gentleman to bean you with a handful of Yellow #5!

The nice thing about no longer being in school, by the way, is I’ve occasionally been having moments where I DON’T think about libraries or Library Issues.

Hm. Speaking of Library Issues, I’m taking issue with the fact that it takes about fifteen times longer to vote for the ALA council than it did to vote in the last Presidential election. Wouldn’t you think the ALA might consider alphabetizing their lengthy list of candidates? Alphabetization is what we’re known for, after all. But hey, what problems could a confusing and awkward ballot cause?